06 Oct Focus on Focusing: The Perfectly Imperfect Path To Growth Through Meditation
Focusing on perfection is limiting and self- punishing; focusing on practice leads to growth and expansion. There is a point when my clients get a puzzled look on their face as they realize perfection and self-discovery mix like oil and water. Underneath that puzzled look is the thought “I can’t get the hang of creating what I want because I keep messing up. I get distracted and want to give up.” Then I share with them a story about the Dalai Lama, how he, just like you and I, veers off course, except his interpretation of it does not stifle his expansion. He practices returning to the present moment and recommits. The Dalai Lama was speaking at a university in upstate New York.
Afterward, during the question and answer period, an audience member chastised herself for getting distracted during meditation. She lamented, “I have so much mind chatter when I try to meditate, I can’t do it right.” In his unique style of humor and wisdom, His Holiness expressed how appropriate the question was that particular day. He explained earlier that morning he noticed how his thoughts were scattered too during his meditation practice. What?!
He explained he was sitting in the dark, at 5am, as he had practiced since a little boy, breathing and letting go. Then, out of nowhere, he started to think about how much traffic was going to be on the highway that day. He thought he should request having the car service come 15-20 minutes earlier than planned. After sharing this, he looked out over the 30,000 people in the stadium and smiled with a gigantic pause. Then in a wonderful, self-deprecating way, he blurted out, “Here I am, I’m His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, having thoughts about traffic during meditation!” His belly-laugh rippled out over the crowd as they roared with reflective laughter. Then, this simple monk, exiled far from his Tibetan homeland, responded with the key takeaway here (paraphrasing): “I just noticed my mind chatter about the car service was distracting me and I let it fall away. I simply returned to my breathing, my meditation. That is the practice. So I suggest to you as a recommendation…simply return to your practice.”
Sage advice. Notice the Dalai Lama didn’t frame it as messing up, doing it wrong, being bad, or not good enough. There is no perfect! It is simply the practice of closing the gap between drifting, noticing, and presencing again. This too has been a touchstone of my learning, and believe me, I can recount some real-life doozies this past year of some pretty funny blunders and self-induced distractions. Ironically, for this I am grateful. All of those experiences make up who I am, and become a foundation for my learning and expansion.